How to Write an Effective Research Paper Abstract for College

A research paper abstract offers a preview or highlights major points and helps the reader decide whether to view your work. An abstract for a research paper is the axis of your research paper, and it comprises of a brief summary of your whole paper.

Keep in mind that the abstract should read like a sketch of your research paper and not like a suggestion for what you expect to achieve.

Knowing how to write a research paper with a captivating abstract is imperative nowadays than a few decades ago when paper manuscripts were mandatory.

The Purpose of Writing a Research Paper Abstract

An effective abstract will help you achieve five primary goals;

  • Help readers, as well as researchers, remember the main findings on the subject
  • Help the audience decide on whether to read the entire paper
  • It acts as a pre-reading outline of main points and helps the reader understand a text
  • Aids the supervisors to evaluate procedural work without becoming burdened up in details
  • Catalogues articles for easy cross-referencing and recovery

Types of Abstracts

The first thing you should do is to decide the type of abstract for your research paper. The main types of abstracts include:

1.    Informative Abstracts

These types of research paper abstracts are usually used for engineering, science, or psychology reports. In about 200 words, you must get the core of what your report is all about. Informative abstracts usually have critical parts in common; these parts typically include one to two sentences. The parts comprise;

  • Background
  • Purpose of the research
  • Methodology
  • Findings
  • Conclusion

An effective informative abstract can also act as a substitute for the paper itself. This is because you will present and explain all key arguments and findings in the paper.

Write a Research Paper Abstract
Effective Research Paper Abstract

2.    Descriptive Abstract

A descriptive abstract shows the kind of data found in the research. It doesn’t make any verdicts about the work and doesn’t offer results or conclusions.

A descriptive research paper abstract should outline all the topics covered in the paper so that the reader can decide whether to read the whole paper.

Unlike an informative type of abstract, reading a descriptive abstract cannot surrogate for reading the document since it doesn’t capture the content of the paper.

3.    Highlight Abstract

This type of abstract is written for the sole purpose of attracting the reader’s attention to the research. These types of abstracts use leading and unfinished remarks to trigger the reader’s curiosity. Additionally, this research paper abstract cannot stand sovereign of its subordinate article, and it is not an actual abstract. Therefore, it should not be used in writing an academic paper. .

4.    Critical Abstract

Apart from describing the main findings and the information, a critical abstract provides judgement or comment about the comprehensiveness, reliability, and legitimacy of the research paper. Critical abstracts should be 400-500 words in length. However, these abstracts are not commonly used.

How to Write an Effective Abstract

Step 1: Choose the Type of Abstract You Need To Write

All research paper abstracts are written with the same goal, to offer a summary of your study. The best way to determine the type of abstract to use for your paper is by following the instructions for research submission and reading many other published articles.

Step 2: Research the Rules and Requirements of the Abstract

You must strictly follow the instructions and the conditions in the guide for the researcher’s section.

Every supervisor has specific demands when it comes to the structure and the format of the abstract. The following are some questions that can be addressed in the researchers’ guidelines;

  • What are the style and formatting requirements?
  • Which is the suitable type of abstract?
  • What is the maximum/ minimum word or character length?
  • Are there any specific organization rules that apply?

Step 3: Recognise Your Target Audience

Your target audience is the group of readers that you want or expect to read your paper. They are the ones that you should be designing your paper for. Your target audience should understand everything that you write.

Think of your supervisors as just one of the target audiences; the other audiences should be people who are interested in your study and can benefit from your research.

Step 4: Writing the Abstract

When writing and outlining the abstract, you must provide only relevant, useful information; also, when possible you should use the active voice.

On the other hand, it is essential to note that the greater part of your research paper abstract will need passive sentence construction.

To explain your research fully, your abstract must cover all parts of your research. Since your abstract must accomplish this in a few hundred words, you should avoid vague references or phrases that might confuse your audience or misguide them about the content of your research paper.

Formatting Your Abstract

Your abstract page should appear in its own paragraph and in block format. It should also include the page header, and follow the title page.

Additionally, your abstract should contain the research paper topic, research questions, participants, methodology, findings, data analysis, and the conclusion. The word “Abstract” must be centred at the top of the page.

The research paper abstract can include possible suggestions for your study and future work you see associated with your results. To include keywords in your abstract, start a new paragraph, type keywords, and list the keywords.

1. Dos and Don’ts When It Comes To Writing an Abstract

  1. Use references to words and other people only if they are well known
  2. Avoid lengthy background
  3. Don’t use acronyms or abbreviations
  4. Don’t use jargons that might confuse the readers
  5. Don’t use elliptical like “…”
  6. Don’t use redundant phrases, pointless adjectives, and adverbs

2. Use Keywords

Your supervisors will expect you to provide keywords at the matching time as the abstract. Internet search engines will use these keywords to trace your research paper abstract.

For instance, when writing an APA style abstract, you must use natural language related to your topic and pick 3-5 keywords.

The keywords you choose should reference the main vital features of the research to help readers obtain your paper when doing their own literature searches.

3. Structure of the Abstract

Below is a checklist that will help you make sure you include all the essential content in your abstract.

4. Identify the Reason for Writing

What is the importance of your research? Start your abstract by explaining to people why they should care about your study. Why the study is vital to your field and what is the objective of the research? What are you trying to accomplish? The first part of your abstract must include the study’s significance and its impact on the related fields or the extensive academic domain.

5. Explain the Problem You Are Addressing

What problem do you want to solve using your work? What is the scope of the project? Does it try to explain something specific or general? What is the primary thesis, argument, or claim?

6. Methodology

Now that you have already established the significance of the research, as well as the problem you are trying to address, you need to discuss how you solved the problem.

How did you do your research, is your study your own work or teamwork? Describe that here. This part should be an accurate description of the methods you used in one or two sentences.

You must write this in the past tense as it describes completed actions. The main aim here is to give the audience a brief insight into the general methodology and procedures used.

7. Summarize Your Findings

The results can be written in past or present tense, depending on your research duration and complexity. Try to focus on the major findings because you will not be able to include all the results in the abstract.

8. Give Your Conclusion

This is the part where you should give your implications as well as the limitations to your research. This statement should be carefully connected to your findings and not the area of study in general.

The conclusion is usually written in present tense. Stating the limitations to your research allows your target audience to evaluate the credibility and generalizability of your study.

If your research was meant to solve a practical problem, then the conclusion should include recommendations for implementation, and if possible, you can briefly make suggestions for further studies.

Helpful Tips for Writing an Abstract

  1. Keep the abstract in order
  2. Offer helpful information
  3. Write it from scratch
  4. Use key phrases and words
  5. Use actual data
  6. Don’t be too specific
  7. Do basic revisions
  8. Get feedback from a friend

Sample Abstract for Research Paper Presentation


Many plants in Australia must have their seeds submerged deep in the ground for germination to occur and to guarantee the survival of the species. At a specific temperature, the seeds start to germinate. The seeds of Eucalyptus globulus and Acacia terminalis were studied in this research. It was theorised that the seeds needed high temperatures to germinate. The seeds from the two trees were treated in hot water and cold water and left to grow. After the hot water treatments, Acacia terminalis showed significant progress, while Eucalyptus globulus didn’t. None of the seeds showed any response in the cold water treatment. The result portrayed by Eucalyptus globulus was not expected. It may be explained by various factors, including temperature and the duration of time the seed remained in the heated water.

Bottom Line

The abstract is an important element of your research paper as it summarizes everything that you will write in your paper, and explains your study succinctly to your prof.

While this guide makes writing an abstract seem like a simple task, abstracts are a major concern for most students.

For this reason, you may want to hire a professional writer from DoMyPaperNow to write your abstract concisely without adding unnecessary information to pump up word count.

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